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Child Exploitation

Former Army sergeant sentenced to 15 ½ years for transportation of child pornography

MIAMI - A former Army sergeant, Mark Anthony Garcia, 26, formerly of Texas, was sentenced on July 27 by U.S. District Judge William J. Zloch to 15 1/2 years in prison, followed by 25 years of supervised release on charges of transportation of child pornography following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Homeland Security Investigations in Miami and the Boynton Beach Police Department.

On Feb. 13, an undercover detective from the Boynton Beach Police Department, assigned to the South Florida Internet Crimes against Children (SFL-ICAC) Task Force, received an invitation from Garcia to join his peer-to-peer network. Once connected to Garcia's files, the detective observed that Garcia was offering to share videos and images that appeared to depict child pornography. Law enforcement then successfully downloaded child pornography images from Garcia via this file sharing program.

On Feb. 26, law enforcement, aided by Army Criminal Investigative Division (CID) special agents assigned to the Schweinfurt, Germany office, where Garcia was then serving as an army sergeant, arrested Garcia, who admitted to possessing and sharing child pornography on the Internet with others.

This investigation is part of ICE's Operation Predator, a nationwide initiative to identify, investigate and arrest those who sexually exploit children, and the Department of Justice's Project Safe Childhood (PSC), a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006, which marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims.

For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.

As part of Operation Predator, ICE encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-347-2423. This hotline is staffed around the clock by investigators. Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Corey Steinberg and Rinku Tribuiani.